In the financial markets, there is a flow of funds from one group of parties (funds-surplus units) known as investors to another group (funds-deficit units) which require funds. However, often these groups do not have direct link. The link is provided by market intermediaries such as brokers, mutual funds, leasing and finance companies, etc. In all, there is a very large number of players and participants in the financial market. These can be grouped as follows :
- The individuals: These are net savers and purchase the securities issued by corporates. Individuals provide funds by subscribing to these security or by making other investments.
- The Firms or corporates: The corporates are net borrowers. They require funds for different projects from time to time. They offer different types of securities to suit the risk preferences of investors’ Sometimes, the corporates invest excess funds, as individuals do. The funds raised by issue of securities are invested in real assets like plant and machinery. The income generated by these real assets is distributed as interest or dividends to the investors who own the securities.
- Government: Government may borrow funds to take care of the budget deficit or as a measure of controlling the liquidity, etc. Government may require funds for long terms (which are raised by issue of Government loans) or for short-terms (for maintaining liquidity) in the money market. Government makes initial investments in public sector enterprises by subscribing to the shares, however, these investments (shares) may be sold to public through the process of disinvestments.
- Regulators: Financial system is regulated by different government agencies. The relationships among other participants, the trading mechanism and the overall flow of funds are managed, supervised and controlled by these statutory agencies. In India, two basic agencies regulating the financial market are the Reserve Bank of India (RBI ) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Reserve Bank of India, being the Central Bank, has the primary responsibility of maintaining liquidity in the money market. It undertakes the sale and purchase of T-Bills on behalf of the Government of India. SEBI has a primary responsibility of regulating and supervising the capital market. It has issued a number of Guidelines and Rules for the control and supervision of capital market and investors’ protection. Besides, there is an array of legislation’s and government departments also to regulate the operations in the financial system.
- Market Intermediaries: There are a number of market intermediaries known as financial intermediaries or merchant bankers, operating in financial system. These are also known as investment managers or investment bankers. The objective of these intermediaries is to smoothen the process of investment and to establish a link between the investors and the users of funds. Corporations and Governments do not market their securities directly to the investors. Instead, they hire the services of the market intermediaries to represent them to the investors. Investors, particularly small investors, find it difficult to make direct investment. A small investor desiring to invest may not find a willing and desirable borrower. He may not be able to diversify across borrowers to reduce risk. He may not be equipped to assess and monitor the credit risk of borrowers. Market intermediaries help investors to select investments by providing investment consultancy, market analysis and credit rating of investment instruments. In order to operate in secondary market, the investors have to transact through share brokers. Mutual funds and investment companies pool the funds(savings) of investors and invest the corpus in different investment alternatives. Some of the market intermediaries are:
These market intermediaries provide different types of financial services to the investors. They provide expertise to the securities issuers. They are constantly operating in the financial market. Small investors in particular and other investors too, rely on them. It is in their (market intermediaries) own interest to behave rationally, maintain integrity and to protect and maintain reputation, otherwise the investors would not be trusting them next time. In principle, these intermediaries bring efficiency to corporate fund raising by developing expertise in pricing new issues and marketing them to the investors.